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Series

Can The World's Biggest Football Club Stay On Top?

March 20, 2018 00:00 AM UTC
- Updated September 02, 2020 11:41 AM UTC

How Futbol Club Barcelona is adapting with the times to beat the competition.

Transcript
[MUSIC PLAYING] FC Barcelona is one of the most successful clubs in soccer in the history of the world. It has a really long tradition of over a century, and represents much more than just the sport itself. In fact, their motto is [SPEAKING SPANISH] "more than a club." Being in this [SPEAKING SPANISH] "more than a club," that means that we try to do things in a different way. And sometimes this is tougher, but I think that at the end of the day, we are very proud to be here. Barcelona has had a lot of success in building its fan base over the years because it's had success on the field, because they play with a style that is really fun to watch, because they've had terrific players, like Johan Cruyff, and Xavi, and Ronaldinho, and now Lionel Messi. And they build a really close connection with their fans. Barcelona does not have an owner or owners. It has members, 150,000 of them. My grandfather was the one that made me a member when I was born. Being a member, it's something that you have to be, because at the end of the day, you feel the club as your family, and my children are members. And it's a very familiar tradition. Barcelona, over the decades, did some things differently than other clubs. They viewed themselves as having an even bigger public responsibility. We're different. We are a club that represents millions of people from here, from Catalonia. We are very involved in foundations like UNICEF that help kids that they are in poverty. For the longest time, while clubs around the world all had sponsors on their jerseys, Barcelona didn't. And in fact, the first time they actually did put a sponsor, it was UNICEF. They paid UNICEF, not the other way around. Now, in recent years, they have had to strike a balance between that desire to help the public good and the bottom line and being able to compete on the field. And so Barcelona has changed. In fact, they put Qatar Airways on their jersey for quite a while. If you want to keep talent, and if you want to keep the best players of the world in your team-- that is something that Barcelona always want to do-- we have to compete with all the other clubs that they are investing, and they are offering much more money. And we have to be with the same numbers as them. A few years ago, UEFA, which is the governing body for European soccer, instituted a new system called financial fair play. The gist of which is you're not going to be allowed to outspend your revenues on players. That also makes it really important, if you're one of the top clubs, to increase your revenues, because if you don't, you're not going to be able to spend as you please, to buy as many players as you want. In the summer of 2017, Barcelona set a world record for a transfer team by selling Neymar, for far and away the biggest price ever that we've seen in world soccer, to Paris Saint-Germain, the team owned in Paris by the Qatari royal family. This was a huge moment for PSG, for Neymar, but also for Barcelona to decide to sell him. Now, what did Barcelona get from selling Neymar? They got a ton of money. And then Barcelona was then able to use that money and buy their own players to replace Neymar. I think there are people who wonder if Barcelona will be able to succeed in the future without compromising their core values. But in my opinion, I don't think they have compromised what they are about as a club. There are some very impressive people involved in that club, and a very impressive history that-- there's a reason why Barcelona has won so many fans around the world. I think you'll be able to keep doing that.